Piracetam is a chemical synthesized from GABA neurotransmitters and is widely marketed as a smart drug that boosts memory and brain function. Although studies have not fully understood how it works, it might promote cognitive abilities, reduce the frequency of myoclonic jerks, scale down inflammation, and reduce symptoms of dementia, Alzheimer’s diseases, and other neurodegenerative conditions.

Piracetam is the first-ever smart drug widely marketed in Europe, Canada, the USA, and other parts of the world to boost memory, focus, and brain function. Although aging is an inevitable process, scientists believe that drugs and supplements like piracetam could scale down the expressions of age-related cognitive decline while helping boost memory and brain function. Researchers have not understood how piracetam interacts with the brain to produce the desired benefits despite its widespread popularity, and the FDA has also not approved it as a legal supplement. Still, it may help reduce myoclonic jerks, lower inflammation, boost brain function, and reduce symptoms of dyslexia, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other aspects of cognitive decline. Here is everything you need to know about piracetam.

What is piracetam?

Piracetam is a lab chemical derived from GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) neurotransmitter that slows down mental activities. It is a nootropic or smart drug specifically designed to boost memory and brain function. Piracetam is sold in physical stores and online and can come as a drug or powdered or capsule supplement. Canada, Europe, and the USA were the regions first to embrace piracetam as a drug or supplement but quickly popularized to the rest of the world. Many people use piracetam, including those with dyskinesia, dyslexia, schizophrenia, sickle cell disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

How piracetam interacts with the body

Interestingly, scientists have not fully understood how piracetam interacts with the body and brain to improve focus and cognitive ability. It is no wonder that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has held back from legalizing it as a supplement, although it’s still marketed as a supplement in Europe and elsewhere. Preliminary studies believe this chemical interacts with cells, specifically the cell membrane, making it fluid. This then culminates in the associated health benefit since making the cell membranes fluid improves communication through the body.

It is courtesy of this very cell membrane-piracetam interaction that this nootropic drug is becoming popularized. As one ages, his cells and the cell membranes stiffen, causing a disconnect and lack of communication between the cells and the brain, leading to symptoms of dementia such as loss of coordination. Cell stiffness also occurs due to most of the conditions for which this smart drug is used, including dyslexia, epilepsy, dyskinesia, myoclonic jerks, etc. Researchers argue that the cells of people with such conditions interact with piracetam to become fluid, easing the stiffness caused by the underlying conditions. As such, they believe that piracetam should improve brain function and other cognitive aspects, among other health benefits in those taking it. Nonetheless, there is no evidence that this is certainly how piracetam works, and only in-depth studies will reveal the truth. Here are some benefits that have been linked to piracetam;

i. It may boost brain function and memory

Nootropics are natural or artificial substances that promote cognition, and piracetam is marketed primarily for this purpose. Although it is unclear how it works, some observational studies prove that it can boost brain function. As mentioned previously, piracetam interacts with cells, making the cell membrane fluid. This means that cells can send signals back and forth and communicate well with others. Besides, piracetam opens up cells that had stiffened, supplying them with more oxygen and glucose. This is so re-energizing and may improve cell activity, including for brain cells. Two separate studies found that a daily dose of piracetam resulted in better performance, even in individuals who had slightly lost memory after surgery.

ii. It may protect against or improve myoclonic jerks

Myoclonic jerks are involuntary muscle spasms that occur spontaneously, making normal activities like walking, writing, and washing troubling. Epilepsy is one condition for which these involuntary muscle jerks are common, but even non-epileptic people experience this condition. Observational studies show that taking piracetam can help protect against the jerks or even reduce their frequencies. For instance, one study noted that when a 47-year-old lady took piracetam consistently, her myoclonic jerks eventually stopped.

iii. It might help manage dyslexia symptoms

People with dyslexia have used piracetam with positive observations. For instance, one study administered a placebo or piracetam to dyslexic students aged 7-13 years who could not read, write, or spell well. The study lasted for 36 weeks, but it noted many things to be desired even before its end. For instance, at 12 weeks, the student’s reading ability had significantly improved. Another study conducted nearly the same line of research but worked with children aged 8-13 years also recorded improved reading and listening abilities.

iv. It may help reduce inflammation

Inflammation is a natural process that promotes defense against infections and should be harmless. However, uncontrolled inflammation, especially when slow-acting but certain, is risky and may damage the cells, especially when its action couples with free radicals and oxidative damage. Studies show that piracetam could have anti-inflammatory properties, as seen in animal experiments. Besides, piracetam has antioxidants that neutralize cytokines, molecules that send the system into an auto-defensive damaging action. As if that’s not enough, piracetam increased inflammation markers in one animal cell experiment, showing the more that it’s anti-inflammatory.

v. It may help manage symptoms of dementia

Dementia is a neurodegenerative condition that affects many people, especially those advancing in age. It presents itself initially as Alzheimer’s disease, causing a loss in coordination and compromised ability to do simple tasks and personal effects. In worst cases, it results in loss of speech and even mobility. Studies show that using piracetam can help one manage symptoms of dementia since it opens the cells, boosts their fluid content, and improves communication signals. However, most studies on this line used animal cells, and we cannot tell if the results can be translated to man 100%. As such, there is a need for further studies before confidently recommending piracetam for dementia.


Piracetam is a nootropic or a smart drug marketed as a capsule or powdered supplement to boost cognition. It is used to manage several conditions, including dementia, epilepsy, dyslexia, dyskinesia, sickle cells, etc. It may help manage symptoms of dementia and dyslexia, reduce or protect against myoclonic jerks, reduce inflammation risk, and promote brain function. Nonetheless, studies have not fully established how it works, but we hope things will clear up with time.

Elena Ognivtseva
Latest posts by Elena Ognivtseva (see all)

Nutritionist, Cornell University, MS

I believe that nutrition science is a wonderful helper both for the preventive improvement of health and adjunctive therapy in treatment. My goal is to help people improve their health and well-being without torturing themselves with unnecessary dietary restrictions. I am a supporter of a healthy lifestyle – I play sports, cycle, and swim in the lake all year round. With my work, I have been featured in Vice, Country Living, Harrods magazine, Daily Telegraph, Grazia, Women's Health, and other media outlets.

Latest from Health